The Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary accepted recommendations to change the penal code and drug law. This is a very important issue that the General Assembly has been working on for two years. It is likely that this will be one of the major issues to come out of the 2011 session. The LRC press release is below:
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2011
Committee accepts recommended changes to penal code and drug law
FRANKFORT – A state legislative committee today moved a step closer to reducing the state's $500 million annual correctional system costs by accepting task-force recommended changes to Kentucky's prison system.
Recommendations that would strengthen the state's probation and parole system, improve how drug users are handled by the courts, give more support to crime victims and improve government performance in public safety and corrections spending were explained by officials from the Pew Center on the States before they were accepted today by the Judiciary Committee. The Center worked with the state Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act to craft the several pages of recommendations, which will be used to draft legislation overhauling criminal penalties and drug laws for consideration during the 2011 Regular Session.
Committee Co-Chairman Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said legislation including the recommendations will be filed the first week of the second part of the session, which begins Feb. 1.
Some of the recommendations shared by the Pew Center's Richard Jerome include codifying existing risk and needs assessment tools used on inmates by the prison system, allowing certain inmates to serve the last nine months of their prison sentence on release with mandatory supervision, allowing GPS to be used for pretrial, probation and post-incarceration, earned credits for parolees and those on probation, creating a "presumed sentence" such as probation and treatment for simple drug possession.
"Dealing with users (who have not engaged in) other criminal activity, there are often better ways than incarceration," Jerome said.
Other key recommendations would create a tracking system for victim restitution payment, and require fiscal statements on corrections spending to include the source of money that is spent.
Lawmakers began considering changes to the state's Corrections system in recent years after national studies showed Kentucky had the fastest growing prison population nationally through 2007. Pew Center officials said Kentucky's prison population rose 45 percent over the past decade—compared to a 13 percent increase nationally—although the state's population has dipped slightly in recent years.